Heartworms are a scary threat in every part of the US. They make your dogs sick, and they also make you worry. And the worse part is that heartworms can happen at any time of the year. Today, we are going to talk about what heartworms are and the 10 Signs Your Doodle Dog Has Heartworm. We will also tell you how heartworms are treated and future prevention methods.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are a parasite, also called Dirofilariaimmitis. These small parasites are spread from animal to animal through mosquito bites. The mosquito bites your dog and deposits heartworm larvae into the bloodstream. The larvae then travel through your dog’s system before residing in the lungs. Then the worms will continue to reproduce until they have taken over your dog’s blood vessels.
10 10 Signs Your Doodle Dog Has Heartworm
Catching these 10 Signs Your Doodle Dog Has Heartworm will help your dog recover faster. Heartworms often go entirely under the radar. Most people don’t suspect anything is wrong until the case has gotten out of control. Heartworm in dogs has four stages, but the first is often unnoticed as there are no symptoms. Below we will start from stage two and explain the sign and why it is happening.
Stage 2: Mild Infestation
1. Heartworm Cough
The first most noticeable symptom is a dry cough. This dry cough generally happens with light activity and calms itself as soon as it begins. The reason your dog will start coughing is that the heartworms are settling into the pulmonary arteries. Pulmonary arteries are responsible for the oxygen exchange from the lungs to the bloodstream. Hence why this symptom is called the heartworm cough.
You may also notice that your dog starts to have less and less energy. Activities that your dogs usually enjoyed might not excite them anymore. Your sweet dog might even have a decreased appetite. The lack of energy is generally caused by the decrease in oxygen levels to the blood supply. This symptom will get more severe as the heartworm in dogs progresses.
3. Weight Loss
Weight loss and lethargy go hand in hand. If your dog is eating less, they might lose weight suddenly. Which is unlike tapeworms, where a dog eats a lot and still loses weight. Heartworms make the simplest task of digestion cumbersome. But this won’t last for long.
Stage 3: Moderate Infestation
4. Difficulty Breathing
In addition to the heartworm cough worsening, difficulty breathing will be added. Your dog will start to wheeze as if they are asthmatic. The difficulty of breathing can also cause more lethargy. This new symptom is the result of fluid building up in the lungs. As the heartworm progresses, fluid will surround the arteries that make it difficult to get oxygen.
5. Bulging Ribs
The fluid build-up mentioned before will also cause the ribs to extend. Your dog will still look too thin around the legs and hip areas, but the ribs will start bulging. The disproportional look is a sure sign of heartworm in dogs.
Depending on your dog’s age and health, fainting could be another symptom. For some dogs, the lack of oxygen causes fainting and dizziness. Fainting is most common in elderly dogs or dogs with pre-existing conditions.
Stage 4: Severe Infestation
7. Vomiting And Diarrhea
In later stages, your dog’s liver will become enlarged. The biggest sign of an enlarged liver is vomiting and diarrhea. But to know that your dog has an enlarged liver, you will need to get a vet diagnosis. The liver becomes enlarged when heartworms that are in the blood. The liver then filters the blood and catches these heartworms and swells.
8. Pale Gums
Pale gums are a sign that your dog has blockage from the heartworms. Blockages could happen within the lungs or the heart, depending on how severe the case has gotten. The reason you see pale gums is from the lack of oxygen and blood in the body. You may also see more labored breathing and dark brown urine as a sign along with pale gums.
9. Heart Murmur
If your dog has a blockage, they will likely have a heart murmur as well. You might not notice this, and a vet should examine it. If your dog is already going through heartworm treatment, then they will check for this too. Once treated for heartworms, the heart murmur will go away as well.
10. Heart Attacks
And finally, heart attacks and heart failure are common in the most severe cases of heartworms. This happens when the blockages move through the body and to the heart. Sometimes these blockages are too large and stop the heart. If your dog has gotten to this stage of heartworms, there is a minimal chance of recovering.
How To Check If Your Dog Has Heartworms
Currently, there are no home tests for heartworms. If you suspect that our dog has heartworms, you will need vet confirmation. Your vet will take a small blood sample from your dog to test. They then use a test that checks for proteins that female heartworms give off. These tests are incredibly accurate and can detect even a single female.
And the results are fast if done in the office. Most vets will have your results within 20 minutes. But if your vet has to send off the blood test to a lab, you will have to wait up to 2 days for the results.
My dog has heartworms, how long will she live? There is good news! Your dog doesn’t have to live with heartworms. If your dog has tested positive, your vet will recommend going through treatment immediately. Your dog will get one round of Melarsomine to kill the adult heartworms. Your dog will then need 30 days of bed rest and no physical exertion to prevent a blood clot.
After the first round of heartworm treatments, your dog will get two more shots. Both of these shots are given within 24 hours of each other to kill all the adult worms. But the frequency depends on how severe the case is. This method is extremely successful, and your dog life expectancy after heartworm treatment is not changed.
Your vet might also want to prescribe doxycycline. Doxycycline is an antibiotic that, in this case, is being used to prevent Wolbachia, a bacteria in heartworms. Once the heartworms start to die, they might leach this bacteria into the blood, so antibiotics will keep your dogs safe during treatment.
What If You Don’t Want treatment?
Not treating heartworms has different effects on different dogs. If your dog is young and healthy, your dog could live years without an issue. But if your dog is older or has other underlying conditions, heartworms are fatal. And there are no natural heartworm treatments that kill the worms, only natural ways to ease the symptoms. So your best chance for survival is by going through treatment.
The best way to prevent heartworm in dogs is by giving heartworm medication monthly. The best way to get a heartworm preventative is by going to your vet or getting a prescription. The reason you want to go to the vet first is that your vet will first test your dog for heartworms. If your dog is heartworm positive, a treatment plan should be your first action. If the test comes back negative, your vet can give you a prescription for preventatives.
Another great way to prevent heartworms in dogs is by giving a topical mosquito repellent. Drops like K9 Advantix II is a three in one treatment for fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. This will give your dogs the best protection all year round. If you live in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, you might want to treat your yard as well.
The most vital part of preventing heartworms in dogs is not to miss dosing. Having a gap in treatments could leave room for your dog to be infected.
Is Heartworms Contagious?
Your dog can not get heartworms from other animals. Since the heartworm lifecycle mostly happens in the lungs and blood vessels, there is no way to spread. Even if your dog comes into contact with an infected animal’s feces, your dog will be safe. The only way for dogs and cats to get heartworms is through mosquito bites. And humans can’t get heartworms, so you don’t have to worry.
Making Your Dog Comfortable
Going through heartworm treatment is hard on a dog, even if they are otherwise healthy. For the most part, keeping your dog calm and comfortable should be your first goal. There are a few things you can do to help your dog.
- Don’t go on long walks during this time. Only short potty breaks are necessary.
- No company that will excite your dog.
- Use the crate when you are gone.
- Give some puzzles and engaging toys that won’t excite your dog.
- Extra blankets and a comfy bed is a must.
- Try calming sprays if your dog seems restless.
Heartworm in dogs can be a scary thing to go through. But with these 10 Signs, Your Doodle Dog Has Heartworm. you might be able to catch the problem before it becomes one. A fast diagnosis leads to a speedier recovery. And remember to talk to your vet about preventatives in the future for year-round protection.
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